The Mousetrap by Agatha Christie
Why I Decided To Read It: For Christmas a couple years ago, I got a book of plays by Agatha Christie. I like mysteries and I’ve read a bit of other Agatha Christie things by this point. Recently, I wanted to read something a bit more classic, so I looked on my shelf and saw the Agatha Christie play collection, so I decided to read The Mousetrap. I knew that it’s her most famous play and it’s still performed on the West End to this day. Also, I thought review this with Hamlet references in both titles was kind of funny.
Summary: Young couple Mollie and Giles Ralston are a bit in over their heads when they decide to open a guest house in the English countryside. On the first day Monkswell Manor is open for guests, a snow storm traps them and their guests- excitable Christopher Wren, opinionated Mrs. Boyle, kind Major Metcalf, aloof Miss Casewell, and plain odd Mr. Paravicini- for the foreseeable future. When a detective sergeant comes to investigate the murder of a woman found with a notebook containing references to “Three Blind Mice” and the address of Monkswell Manor, everyone goes on alert. Everyone is a suspect. And anyone can be a victim.
Thoughts and Analysis: I’m not going to spoil the ending on this one- unlike some of my other reviews- out of respect for Agatha Christie and her estate’s wishes. It’s very Agatha Christie though. She loves her twists.
I really wasn’t sure where this one was going to go. There were a couple times where I had to stop myself and not look at the ending because I am impatient and like to know the ending of mysteries. It kept me on my toes.
I know “parlor mysteries” have been satired to the moon and back, but The Mousetrap is a great parlor mystery regardless. There is a reason Agatha Christie is The Queen of Crime. The characters are interesting. It’s plotted well. The atmosphere is downright creepy at times with the use of “Three Blind Mice” but there is some levity. The suspense is pretty good.
It’s not the deepest play in terms of theme as a whole or message- most traditional murder mysteries aren’t. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. And there are plenty of opportunities for productions/actors to look into the background of each individual character and use it for their advantages. It is what it is and that’s a pretty damn good classic murder mystery.
Favorite Character: All the characters are very character-y. Again, not a bad thing. I do like Miss Casewell because she’s the most mysterious of all the guests. She’s also pretty sarcastic. It’s also rare to see a young, non-feminine woman who isn’t really the butt of the joke in plays of this time. Mollie Ralston is also a pretty good character, in the more traditional leading-lady sense.
Should You Read This?: Considering this is the bedrock for a lot of murder mystery plays, it’s worth giving a whirl.
Final Thoughts: If you like murder mysteries, this is one of the best of the originators.